What started as a seminar at RMIT in 2012 has now transformed into THE annual Blue user event with over 81 higher education institutions attending. The Bluenotes Americas 2017 conference took place from August 1st – 4th at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Hosted by the University of Louisville for the past four years, the University has taken the lead in organizing the logistics of the conference, managing registrations, helping to secure presenters, sending monthly email invitations to the Bluenotes Group community, and presenting at least one session each year.
As a result of their efforts, this year’s event offered a rich program that supported the theme “Higher Education in the 21st Century: Using Data to Respond to Opportunities and Challenges.” Attendees were treated to an open keynote from Dr. Mark David Milliron as well as workshops, institution-led presentations, Blue eXpert panel discussions, product roadmap sessions and unveils. We recently sat down with Becky Patterson, Executive Director, Office of Institutional Research and Planning, at the University of Louisville, to get her impressions from this year’s event and to learn about the future of Bluenotes Americas.
eXplorance: How has the conference evolved since the University of Louisville became the official host?
Becky Patterson: The conference has grown substantially since 2014. The number of attendees has increased by 134% and the number of institutions represented has increased by 169%. Because of feedback on the post-conference surveys, 33 improvements have been made in the conference over the past three years. These include scheduling more presentations by Blue users, adding more detailed information in the conference program (such as an institutional and attendee directory), having a dedicated eXplorance support station, scheduling structured networking time, and ensuring conference sessions include topics such as Blue surveys and 360 degree feedback.
eXplorance: This year’s theme was ‘Higher Education in the 21st Century: Using Data to Respond to Opportunities and Challenges‘. For the University of Louisville, what were some of the key takeaways?
Becky Patterson: As the landscape of higher education changes with a renewed focus on accountability, collecting data to ensure institutions make informed decisions is more important than ever. Blue and Bluepulse are an integral part of the data collection process. Blue and Bluepulse are used to gather feedback from students, faculty, staff, administrators, the university community, and key stakeholders thereby providing a foundation for institutions to respond to accountability metrics established by institutional leadership, state and federal regulatory agencies, and accrediting bodies.
eXplorance: The goal of BNA is to provide a forum for Blue Users to connect, learn, and share. Do you feel that this goal was met? How?
Becky Patterson: This year’s conference provided many opportunities for users to connect, learn, and share. From the opening night reception, two social activities, a structured networking session to a record number of institution-led presentations, the Bluenotes Americas 2017 conference reached the goal of connecting users. As the Bluenotes Group community grows so does a stronger sense of connectedness among the members. Several attendees expressed excitement about learning innovative ways to collect data using Blue.
eXplorance: How satisfied were attendees with the overall Bluenotes Americas 2017 conference experience?
Becky Patterson: The post-conference survey revealed that overall attendees were 100% satisfied with the conference. The survey also revealed that:
- 100% were satisfied with the individual institution-led sessions
- 95% were satisfied with the social events (Louisville Mega Cavern – 91.58%, Kentucky Derby Museum – 99.04%)
- 100% of this year’s attendees are interest in attending future conferences
eXplorance: In your opinion, what is the biggest reason why institutions should attend the Bluenotes Conferences?
Becky Patterson: The Bluenotes Conferences provide a unique opportunity for eXplorance customers to exchange ideas about best practices, learn about the upcoming features in Blue, and meet with eXplorance staff. The conferences also empower the users to influence the roadmap of the product to ensure it continues to meet the needs of their institutions.
eXplorance: What can attendees expect from next year’s conference?
Becky Patterson: The planning has already started for the next event and we are happy to announce that it will be called the Bluenotes Global 2018 conference. We are also changing the location to the luxurious Seelbach Hilton Hotel. Exciting social activities and networking sessions are being organized. Attendees will have unique opportunities to meet and engage with eXplorance staff, informing presentations are being scheduled, and a leadership track is being developed specifically for those who are responsible for developing and implementing policy at their institution.
A huge thank you to the University of Louisville for yet another successful and memorable conference. Thank you to all who attended and presented at Bluenotes Americas 2017! Looking forward to seeing you at the 2018 conference.
University of Louisville Staff – Molly Hall, Dan Bye, Bob Goldstein, Katie Partin, Katie Bixby, Arnold Hook, Erika Ruffin, Steve Fry, Lisa Horn, Shari Barrow, and Becky Patterson